GOBINEAU, Joseph Arthur, “comte” de. Ville d’Avray near Paris 14.7.1816 — Turin 13.10.1882. French Diplomat, Iranian Scholar and Theoretician of Pseudo-Scientific Racism. Son of Louis de G., a government official and eager royalist, who is said to have adopted the title of a count without right, and Magdeleine de Gercy. Born in a broken family, he had erratic education. partly in Germany. In 1835-49 living in Paris in poor conditions, working mainly as a journalist, until Alexis de Tocqueville employed him in Foreign Ministry. Served also in Switzerland and Germany and in 1855 was sent to Iran and became interested in Oriental studies. In 1865-68 Ambassador in Athens, then Minister in Brazil, in 1872-77 in Stockholm. In last years living in Rome. Married 1846 Clémence Gabrielle Monnerot, two daughters.
In ancient studies Gobineau was autodidact dilettant whose ideas were badly distorted by his racial theories and mystical ideas. He was convinced of the superiority of the white Aryan master race, but had difficulties of finding it, even in Europe.
Publications: Essai sur l’inégalité des races humaines. 1-6. 1853-55, English tr. 1856.
– Mémoire sur l’état social de la Perse actuelle. P. 1856; Trois ans en Asie. 527 p. P. 1859.
– Lecture des textes cunéiformes. 200 p. P. 1858; Traité des écritures cunéiformes. 1-2. P. 1864.
– Mémoire sur diverses manifestations de la vie individuelle. P. 1868.
– Histoire des Perses. 1-2. P. 1869; Les nouvelles asiatiques. 436 p. P. 1876.
– Religions et philosophies dans l’Asie centrale. 544 p. P. 1865 (on Islam).
– Numerous articles, novels, poetry, etc.; Œuvres. Ed. by J. Gaulmier. P. 1983-87.
Sources: *J. Boissel, Gobineau, l’Orient et l’Iran. 1. P. 1974 (2. never came out); J. Calmard, Encyclop. Iranica 11, 2001, 20-24 (online); *Cr. Grottanelli, “Le funzioni, le caste e i fuori-casta: Gobineau, Nietzsche, Jacolliot”, Cultura Tedesca 22, 2003, 83-117; *R. Irwin, “Gobineau, the Would-be Orientalist”, JRAS 26, 2016, 321-332; *P.-L- Rey, L’universe romantique de G. P. 1981; P.-L. Rey, D.O.L.F. 449-451; *L. Schemann, Gobineau. Eine Biographie. Strassburg 1913; Wikipedia with portrait (long article, also many further referemces).
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